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Expulsion of Asians in Uganda in 1972: Wikis


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On 4 August 1972, Idi Amin, President of Uganda, gave Uganda's Asians (mostly Gujaratis of Indian origin) 90 days to leave the country,[1] following an alleged dream in which, he claimed, God told him to expel them.

The order for expulsion was based on the Indophobic social climate of Uganda. The Ugandan government claimed that the Indians were hoarding wealth and goods to the detriment of indigenous Africans, "sabotaging" the Ugandan economy.[2]


Historical background

Former British colonies in Sub-Saharan Africa have many citizens of South Asian descent. They were brought there by the British Empire from British India to do clerical work in Imperial service. In academic discourse, racism directed against these people from their host countries fall under the rubric of Indophobia.[3] The most prominent example of this is the ethnic cleansing of the Indian (sometimes simply called "Asian") minority in Uganda by the dictator Idi Amin.[3]

According to H. H. Patel, many Indians in East Africa and Uganda were in the sartorial and banking businesses, where they were kept forcibly by the British colonialists. Since the representation of Indians in these occupations was high, stereotyping of Indians in Uganda as tailors or bankers was common. Also, some Indians perceived themselves as coming from a more advanced culture than Uganda, a view not appreciated by Ugandans. Indophobia in Uganda thus predated Amin, and also existed under Milton Obote. The 1968 Committee on "Africanization in Commerce and Industry" in Uganda made far-reaching Indophobic proposals. A system of work permits and trade licenses was introduced in 1969 to restrict the role of Indians in economic and professional activities. Indians were segregated and discriminated against in all walks of life.[3] These developments led many Indians to support Idi Amin's coup.

Discrimination and ethnic cleansing

After Amin came to power, he exploited these divisions to spread propaganda against Indians involving stereotyping and scapegoating the Indian minority. Indians were stereotyped as "only traders" and "inbred" to their profession. Indians were attacked as "dukawallas" (an occupational term that degenerated into an anti-Indian slur during Amin's time). Indians were stereotyped as "greedy, conniving", without any racial identity or loyalty but "always cheating, conspiring and plotting" to subvert Uganda. Amin used this propaganda to justify a campaign of "de-Indianization", eventually resulting in the expulsion and ethnic cleansing of Uganda's Indian minority.[3]

Their expulsion resulted in a significant decline in Uganda's Asian Hindu and Muslim population. Many Asians owned big businesses in Uganda and many Indians were born in the country, their ancestors having come from India to Uganda when the country was still a British colony. Those who remained were deported from the cities to the countryside, although most Asians were granted asylum in the United Kingdom. A plurality of the Asians with British passports, around 30,000, emigrated to Britain.[4] Other countries receiving 1,000 or more of the emigrants include India, Canada, Kenya, Pakistan, West Germany, Malawi, and the United States.[4] Many emigrants also found their way, in smaller numbers, to Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Sweden, and Mauritius.[4]

In Britain, the Ugandan Asians were offered temporary accommodation in converted RAF barracks. Most left as soon as possible to find their own homes or to share space with friends or family.

Ugandan soldiers during this period engaged in theft and violence against the Asians with impunity. After their expulsion, the businesses were handed over to Amin's supporters.

In popular culture

The expulsion was portrayed in the novel The Last King of Scotland and the subsequent 2006 film of the book. It was also referred to in the 1991 film Mississippi Masala. It is also the main focus of the young adult novel Child of Dandelions by Shenaaz Nanji, which is a finalist for Canada's prestigious Governor General's Award.

See also


  1. ^ "1972: Asians given 90 days to leave Uganda". BBC On This Day. 7 August 1972. Retrieved 2008-05-17.  
  2. ^ Henckaerts, Jean-Marie and Sohn, Louis B. Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice. 1995, page 22.
  3. ^ a b c d "General Amin and the Indian Exodus from Uganda" Hasu H. Patel, Issue: A Journal of Opinion, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Winter, 1972), pp. 12-22 doi:10.2307/1166488
  4. ^ a b c Abdu Basajabaka Kawalya Kasozi and Nakanyike Musisi and James Mukooza Sejjengo. The Social Origins of Violence in Uganda, 1964-1985. 1994, page 119

External links



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